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COPs work on automotive assembly

I haven’t read the report in detail – it isn’t that long but I’ve been caught up in other things – but Allen Consulting (acting for the Federal Chamber of Automobile Industries, FCAI) claim that, for $500m in government assistance, the automotive assembly industry “makes” the Australian economy $21.5b “larger”. Indeed not just “larger” but […]

Summers out

The decision of Lawrence Summers to abandon his quest to chair the Fed is a good one. His past mistakes/conflicts of interest in opposing regulation of the finance sector should disqualify him and, in the end, it effectively did. Summers is untrustworthy in terms of apparent conflicts of interest and given his extreme right-wing politics […]

Ronald Coase RIP

I have just read that Ronald Coase has died aged 102.

Certainly one of the greatest figures in modern economics. His “dumb” question “What is a firm?” was one of those “dumb” questions that transformed microeconomics. A firm as an island in an ocean of markets. On the island market forces didn’t operate – managerial […]

Economics of the Sicilian mafia

There are a few academic papers on this topic (see here) but my interest is in the sheer inefficiency of gangster-like rule of a country. I have not read any of the scholarly accounts but have gleaned most of my insight from Peter Robb’s meandering Midnight in Sicily – it is one of the most […]

Rejecting microeconomic reforms – views from the right

My political preferences lie on the right side of politics but I find myself increasingly repelled by what I see the right doing – the Australian political movement is paralleling the total madness of the US Republican right. Like most economists I favour a pervasive role for markets in the economy because these often better […]

Rogoff & chess

Rogoff, chess, game theory, financial history & on declining dessert. A great read. Economists are not one-dimensional zombies.

ACE 2011 & intellectual elitism

The Australian Conference of Economists is being organised by William Coleman at the Australian National University this year from 10-14th July. You can register to attend here. It has a good range of invited speakers. I am always surprised at the high quality papers presented at ACE meetings from those working in parts of the […]

Can penny pinching Germans co-exist with free-wheeling Italians & Irish Gentlemen?

This blog prophet Edward Hugh said no – the demographics of free spending exhuberance don’t mix with those of the penny-pinching oldies and even the IMF are courting his views. His blog is here and worth a look – one of his followers is Brad de Long! Hugh is an interesting guy who is thoughtfully […]

Pop economic theory of climate change

The Freakonomics boys (Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner) have more nonsense coming out in a new book Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. Silly material supporting global cooling, deriding climate change policy, criticising solar energy (some startling bloopers here!) and some nutty observations on aerosol-based geoengineering – a […]

Krugman on failures of modern economics

I am sure that Paul Krugman’s ‘How did economists get it so wrong?’ will get much attention in the blogosphere. Worth a read although I don’t believe that policy-makers were as naive as he suggests. They lacked knowledge and always will. A good read for economic students along with the earlier counter-counter-revolutionary work of Robert […]

Not being on your own

Robert Solow is one of the most entertaining – and perceptive – economics writers I know. He also has a zany sense of humour but that is another story. This book review by Solow of Peter Gosselin, High Wire: The Precarious Financial Lives of American Families, provides an excellent critique of the perils of privatising social […]

Defective teaching ethos in university economics

One prominent academic I know dislikes scientific exhibitions in museums (such as ScienceWorks in Melbourne) on the grounds that it makes ‘science’ seem too easy. The same academic dislikes the fact that I take my environmental economics students on fieldtrips to look at specific environmental problems. He thinks it is all a bit ‘down-market’. He […]

Podcasts by prominent economists

I have been listening today to some sensational podcasts by economists from Strongly recommended – fascinating introduction to the major ideas of economics particularly interesting to economists but economists as well.

The highlight for me was Ken Arrow on Hayek, on some amazing reminiscences, recent Nobel Prize Winners, global warming and Sir John Hicks. […]